Friday, September 4, 2009

Family, Minus One

This is our family vacation. Minus One. It's always so weird to take this family vacation that we take every August without one member of our family present. If you'll notice, CB is missing.

CB is missing from a decent number of our photographs actually. Usually, we have pictures of the 3 younger girls together. Or, the girls with us. CB's presence in our photo albums is much like her presence in our real lives. Flitting on the corners. Hanging in the margins. Occupying a lot of time in some respects, but floating on the fringes in other respects. Because she is in summer school throughout July and into the first 2 weeks of August, we can not take our vacations then. After her school is done, she needs to spend time with her biological father in a different state as per joint custody order. The last 2 weeks of summer are the only time she can see him and the only time we can go away as a family. So, we go away without her. And, it allows us to have a lot more flexibility and relaxation and possibly even fun if I'm being completely honest. She is difficult to take to a lot of places and she takes 100% supervision by the water or in a public place. Plus, she gets all stressed out in novel situations. SHE doesn't have fun on vacation.

So, we leave her behind and I feel guilty. We leave her behind and I feel relief yet incomplete. We leave her behind and have a "normal" life for 2 weeks. But it's too normal. It's NOT our lives; it's too typical. It's nice, but it's not "us." It's too... boring. And though it's awesome and it's respite (for me) and it's relaxing and it's sane, it's also bittersweet. Because, like we do so often, we've left someone out. We've left someone behind. And with her absence, I feel the void a bit more than I normally do. With her left behind, so goes a piece of me.

11 comments:

Claire said...

Beautiful and honest post.

sheree said...

wow, Alicia. That is a tough situation, but I applaud you for your honesty and I totally "get it."

Steph said...

I agree with Claire -- it is a beautiful and honest post -- as per usual -- which is why I am a devoted reader. :-) I completely understand. I think that mix of relief and guilt is wholly normal.

Tanya @ TeenAutism said...

The moments of not having to be as vigilant are a welcome and needed respite. But the missing is so hard. I totally hear you.

michelle said...

She's your heart. Anytime one is away, it's like a missing limb, regardless of how much "easier" things are.
GREAT post

Elizabeth said...

This is such a beautiful post and one that I completely understand and have struggled with writing about. I think it's a tragedy that we can't travel together properly as a family, but the reality is that it's far better when we leave without Sophie -- better for her and better for us. I find that people say, "Oh, but she's happier not going," and I think that that might be true, but then, who knows? It's more about accepting something horrible than believing it.

Beth L. Gainer said...

This is a very poignant posting, and it must be difficult to leave a member of the family out on vacations.

Perhaps the vacation of "typical" is helpful to give you the energy and relaxation to help you cope through the rest of the year. It's like recharging your batteries.

Beautiful posting.

tiffrutherf said...

I love the honesty in this post..

Mama Deb said...

I understand what you are saying...and I hope you do not feel too much guilt for saying it! I often feel that I want to say things like that, but that they must be followed by that disclaimer of 'I really love my child, yada, yada.'
Just last week when my son was at school, I took my little guy to the beach and couldn't get over the 'normalcy' and ease of it all. It is what is is, eh?

Osh said...

beautiful post...thank you.

rhemashope said...

It's a strange feeling -- feeling like a "normal" family for once but not being comfortable because it's not really you.

I get sad sometimes when I see family pictures from extended family gatherings. There are lots of shots of the children - the cousins - but Rhema is never in them. Like you said, she's there, but she's floating on the fringes.

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